Pruning Our Layers

Family Update From 2017

God is in the business of stirring things up in ways that make us uncomfortable. In the midst of Him pruning and stripping us, He continues to be patient, forgiving, gracious, and loving. We have been reminded of His goodness so many times over the past few months! Even in the midst of experiencing God’s goodness, my own selfishness and pride often causes me to drift away from truly recognizing how amazing God is. We are called to choose joy each and every morning, but man, that’s difficult! Feeling sorry for ourselves while questioning God’s sovereignty can easily become a part of our daily struggle.

I am reminded of the words from the father of the boy with an unclean spirit in Mark 9:24 – ‘I believe; help me in my unbelief.’ That has been my prayer over the past few months – God, I believe and trust in you, but help me where my pride gets in the way! Help me to choose joy when circumstances don’t go my way. Help me to have patience when life never seems to slow down. Give me clarity even when my brain is foggy and the future is uncertain.

While, these last few months have been somewhat difficult, God’s goodness has reigned supreme! We have seen Him provide in miraculous and unexpected ways. In the midst of our circumstantial ups and downs, God has remained constant. It is comforting to know and serve am the God who remains the same yesterday, today, and forever! I am thankful that His steadfast love remains present, His mercy is new every morning, His peace goes beyond all my understanding, and His grace is sufficient for everything I may need!

Our church family has been walking through a chronological study of Scripture this year. First and foremost, the Old Testament can be challenging (and interesting to study through with your kids), but it is amazing to see God at work in and through His people. There is a constant reminder to the Israelites to remember what God has done for them, to experience His blessings today, and to pursue towards the life He has called them to tomorrow. We get a glimpse of God’s sovereignty in their past, His grace in their present, and His redemption in their future! The amazing thing… THIS IS THE SAME GOD WE SERVE TODAY!

God is sovereign over our past! We cannot change it, but we can grow from it. We must remember what God has done for us and where He has brought us. Our past is a reminder of who we once were, but more importantly of who God is! I’ve wrestled through this… Why would God allow certain things to happen? What if things happened differently? What were we thinking? Where was God in the midst of that? Scripture reminds us that God allows us to go through certain circumstances or gives us the ability to make decisions so that His name can be glorified!

The past two years have been an amazing rollercoaster – one that would definitely give you the thrill of your life. The one that you would throw up on, but turnaround and get right back in line for! After leaving full-time ministry in 2015, our family was broken. There is no other way to explain it… We were hurt beyond explanation. Our marriage was struggling. Our health was a mess – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The importance of family had been thrown out the window. To be honest, we had learned how to set aside portions of the Gospel for the sake of work. Many of our closest friends and family saw the ugliness that came from this. We were attempting to seek God, but had confused how to actually do that on a daily basis.

But…GOD! See, He knew what was going on. He knew where we were at and met us right there. Just like Adam and Eve, even when we tried running with our tails between our legs, He knew right where we were. And man, was His grace ever present in the moments we needed it most! Even when I wasn’t gracious with those around me, God remained gracious with me! I sit here today not fully understanding God’s grace. Yet, I trust in is grace because of the countless times I have experienced it! Each day of our lives is made possible because of His grace. It was through God’s grace that we have experienced tons of healing over the past couple of years. It is because of His grace that we are continuing to grow where we are at today!

Please don’t misread me…God’s grace is not always a warm fuzzy feeling that makes us feel good about ourselves. There are times it has included discipline, reproof, pruning, refining, and stripping us of our comfort zones. It hurts in the moment, but grows us closer to Him in the long run. I am thankful for the counseling we have experienced. I am thankful for the countless people who have stuck with us, even when it would have been easy to tell us to go away. It has been a blessing to have experienced a true sense of community and discipleship within multiple settings over the past couple of years. I am thankful that God has reopened my eyes to the fullness of His Gospel!

God’s pruning should lead us to abiding in His redemptive story! When we rest in Him, the Gospel becomes our reason to wake up in the morning. Experiencing His peace brings a sense of security to our lives, no matter what the circumstances of tomorrow may bring. Finding our purpose is a daily struggle. A new motto we should all live by – experience God’s grace today so that we can find purpose in our tomorrow!

Without preaching, I get the sense that we feel like we can accomplish this by attending church once a week, maybe praying every once in a while, and owning a Bible. Maybe you are a better ‘Christian’ than me, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work. God doesn’t want our once a week attendance records. He doesn’t want our leftovers as we fall asleep at night. He doesn’t ask us to simply write a check so somebody else can go on a missions’ trip. He calls us to be His disciples – learning, growing, and experiencing Him every moment of every day! That is not an easy task, in fact – its impossible to accomplish on our own! So, instead of trying, we easily give up and just go through the motions of modern-day ‘American Christianity.’ We enter the doors of a building and walk out with an emotional high, feeling like we can conquer the world. Monday comes and smacks us in the face, and by Tuesday we are back at doing life the way we want. I say all of this out of experience – I’ve been there, done that, and own that t-shirt! And, unfortunately, my tank ran out. I was left running on empty – plowing through everybody else around me! There is no judgment for those trying to live that way, because there are days that I still wrestle through this exact issue!

The challenge Paul gives us in Romans 12:1-2 is not a once a week challenge. It is a daily, moment-by-moment renewing of the mind that God calls us to! In order to authentically live out the life God has desires, we MUST be begging God for His redemptive story to ring true in our hearts and minds every single day! I get it – there are mornings where I don’t want to. It is in these moments that authentic discipleship and community come in play! It has been amazing, yet difficult to experience this aspect of the Gospel. Life gets ugly. People see us at our worst. We lack the ability to put on a front and be two-faced. The world will judge us and call us hypocritical. We might not gain popularity and we might miss out on that awesome promotion. Seeking a life that exemplifies God’s redemptive story gives us meaning and purpose beyond anything this world has to offer!

I am sure the majority of the people reading this won’t even make it to these next thoughts. That’s ok – my goal was ultimately to share the Gospel, and not to talk much about the Euler Zoo on Wheels. Hopefully most at least read up to this point. I have realized that it is in God’s redemptive story that we also find our calling.

Over the past few months, Autumn and I believe God is calling us to a new season of life. We believe His desire is to be back into full-time ministry. While we would love the opportunity to stay in SWFL, God has yet to open any specific doors that we believe He is leading us through. We have also been encouraged to not limit God based on where we want to be. I have begun submitting my resume to various contacts all over the map. We are relying on His leading as we continue to wrestle through the life He has called us to. Whether it is SWFL or beyond, we know God has a plan and purpose for our family that goes beyond what we could imagine.

So what does that mean and look like? To be honest – I don’t know, but God does! I wish I knew. I wish I had clarity and there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s not always how God operates. He isn’t a genie – He is God, Creator, King, Provider, Protector, Savior, and Lord! We would ask that you be praying for us as we filter through the next season of our lives. Pray for wisdom, clarity, patience, and peace.

I would like to leave you with these words of challenge and encouragement… Do you see God’s sovereignty in your past or are you overwhelmed by it? Are you experiencing God’s grace on a daily basis? How does your tomorrow fit into the redemptive story of Christ? Is God calling you to something greater? Are you living with a false image of God’s grace and sovereignty?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s